1. What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence is often called by other names like Machine Intelligence, Machine Cognition, or Augmented Intelligence. They all have the same meaning.

First, let us start at a most basic level by simply defining Artificial Intelligence. Many have offered their perspective, however as of yet, no universally accepted definition exists. To illustrate the opinions, here are some examples:

“AI is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs.”

John McCarthy (who coined the term Artificial Intelligence in 1956), Stanford University

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to …. intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from past experience.”

Encyclopaedia Britannica

“AI is an area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence – the power of a machine to copy intelligent human behavior.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary


We prefer the simplest definition of AI from Wikipedia:

“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines.”

While this may sound somewhat primitive it cuts to the core and recognizes the fundamentals. AI consists of two words: Artificial and Intelligence. The term “Intelligence” describes the cognitive function of humans (and animals) of becoming aware of situations, learning from them, and applying the learning to make decisions and to solve new problems. It includes one’s capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, planning, creativity, and problem-solving. We generally assume that a person of superior intellect can perform all these functions quickly and for a wide variety of situations and problems.

Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is used when a machine mimics human “cognitive” functions associated with human brain, such as “learning” and “problem-solving”. Our brain?—?with over 100 billion neurons, each connected to several thousand other neurons, making over 100-1000 trillion neural connections?—?is the most complex object in the known universe. Cognition is one of its most complex and advanced skills. Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and senses, often for decision-making and problem-solving. Professor Linda Gottfredson (University of Delaware) puts it very well: “Cognition is the ability to learn, and learn from experience, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, reason, plan and solve problems.

In this way, human intelligence is not a single ability or cognitive process, but rather an array of separate components. Current AI focuses chiefly on a few components of intelligence: learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception, and understanding language.

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